I’m a little bit torn about Dr. Drew. On the one hand, if you listen to Loveline, the guy tends to give people—especially kids—some pretty solid, no-nonsense advice. (Yes, I’m aware of the criticisms—particularly that he basically blames every girl’s problem on sexual abuse.) Still, I want to think he’s altruistic. And then I remember my season watching and reporting on Celebrity Rehab, the purely exploitive reality show masquerading as some sort of truly helpful thing. It’s bullshit, and to realize that you need only look at the title of Dr. Drew’s new spinoff: Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew. They might as well just call it Losers You Maybe Sort Of Recognize Whoring Themselves Out In Every Sense Of The Word.
The “maybe sort of recognize” part is key to this show, too: Looking at a list of the so-called celebs, I honestly don’t recognize a single one. Maybe it’s because I’m not tapped into the porn actress/Miss Teen USA/washed-up metal drummer world, but calling these people celebrities stretches the definition like some of the ladyparts found herein. By which I means it stretches them a lot.
And you know what? I don’t feel bad saying that, because almost everything about this show is meant to be titillating. I’m sure Dr. Drew can sleep at night thinking that he’s just using the “sex” part of “sex rehab” to lure people in and then teach them something, but I call bullshit. Two minutes into the first episode and they’ve already shown lipstick lesbians making out, strippers, and a woman giggling and asking to be tied to a bed. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against any of those things, but it’s just such a setup. As with Celebrity Rehab, these people were clearly told to bring in video of themselves acting out their addiction, which the show can use to break up the footage of Hollywood F-listers crying and having epiphanies they’ll quickly forget. It’d be pitiable if it weren’t so mercenary. It’s just vastly, immediately hypocritical, and it’s hard to believe the producers and creators don’t know that.
Oh, four paragraphs in and I haven’t even introduced you to the cast. Check out these instantly recognizable names! Penny Flame, James Lovett, Nicole Narain, Kari Ann Peniche, Kendra Jade, Duncan Roy, Amber Smith, Phil Varone—each one you associate with smashing success, both artistic and commercial, right?
A brief introduction is in order, then, which is what the first episode offered. (Later, we’re promised physical altercations, lots of flirting, some failure, and maybe a little bit of learning and human growth of the non-penis kind—just to satisfty the storylines if nothing else.) So there’s Peniche, a model who has a huge vibrator collection, which she stacks up in a pile huge. I can’t imagine the scent. There’s Flame, a porn star who loves fucking but nothing else that goes along with it, and who can’t have an intimate relationship. (Both of those women try to “sneak in” vibrators when CLEARLY they were either told not to bring them, or were told to bring them so they could have them taken away on camera.) Every word from Flame’s mouth seems designed to further her porn career post-rehab. Or maybe I’m just being uncharitable—reality TV will do that to you.
Only three dudes are in the house, because, hey, dudes just like to get laid, and it’s not an emotional problem, amirite? Gawd, who cares with a couple of wet fish like former Skid Row drummer Phil Varone (who says things like, “I was doing three, four, five a day” and “I’m a rock star!”) and surfer James Lovett. Lovett is just a goofy kid who can’t stop fucking and jerking off, but he’s also 22. At least there’s something darker under the surface for film director Duncan Roy, who spent some time in jail after his only successful movie (AKA, never seen it) and is basically addicted to Internet boy-porn.
Nicole Narain: former Playboy playmate noted for fucking Colin Farrell. She says, “There was one day where I literally masturbated 18 times in one day.” Kendra Jade is known for being in a sex tape with Jerry Springer, being engaged briefly to Aaron Carter, and being married to the winner of Rock Star: Supernova. She says, “What if Dr. Drew wants to play with me?” by which she means fuck her.
But Dr. Drew won’t do that. He has to play the role of the concerned elder, even though he knows in his heart of hearts that at least half of these people (and more likely all) are here to feed their real addiction: fame, and the lifestyle that comes with it if you’re lucky. He’s ready to enforce rules like, “no flirting, no sex, no masturbation,” but not ready to take the logical step of NOT HAVING MEN AND WOMEN ROOM NEXT TO EACH OTHER. (Nobody would watch that, right? Unless there was lots of potential lesbian action.)
Sigh. Excuse my indignation. I know it’s a TV show, and I am not above laughing at people for being stupid. It’s just that when it’s disguised as something altruistic—and, on top of that, it’s not entertaining—that I get annoyed. The odds of any of these people changing due to this show in any significant way—if indeed they even want to change—seems nil. The odds of airing their stupid shit on TV—even if it’s made up specifically for TV—as a means of actually helping them seems less than zero. So what’s left? The most base stupidity, dressed up in vibrators and comely stares, presented as some sort of helpful experience but really just intended as gawkable entertainment. At least straight-up pornography is honest.